Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Mini Soccer

Despite all the rain this week, Benjamin's Mini Soccer session went on as scheduled today. His final session is next week but they gave out medals today as no one really knows what the crazy weather will be like next week and inclement weather usually keeps folks away.

Benjamin has enjoyed his sessions a lot, he listens to his coach and follows instructions well. We will go to the next level next Spring. Until then, I will continue to teach him basic skills at the park as he loves to run and kick the ball when we go there. We will be watching D.C. United and European soccer on TV when it is on too. D.C. United has one afternoon home game in September so Benjamin and I will go to that. I believe his day care has a soccer program this Fall and we'll enroll him in that too.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Memorial Day Weekend


Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum.
We took Benjamin to the National Mall to check out a couple museums. We kept the agenda light as we didn't want to force too much on Benjamin. Between the Air and Space Museum and Natural History Museum, we took a ride on the carousel and had lunch. Benjamin fell asleep midway through the Natural History Museum so we stopped in a cool movie room there and all of us rested before heading home.

Benjamin loved the subway ride to the museums

Hanging out near the Washington Monument

Air and Space Museum

Learning is cool!

Carousel ride!

Not happy with his smoke signal plan, early man invents the Blackberry.


Nationals vs Orioles (Nats win 8-5)

Thanks to my firm's generosity, I got four tickets to the game and I took some friends. The view from Section 135 is reflected in these pics (click to enlarge). During the at bats, the first base coach was in the way so I had to edit the pictures. Next game I go to (June 25 vs Boston) I plan to rove around the ballpark and get some close up pictures.

Orioles Nick Markakis at bat

Orioles Aubrey Huff in with a double

Nats Ryan Zimmerman at bat

O's turn a double play. Second shot would have been
good if I got the ball in the picture.

O's Nick Markakis warming up.

President's race. (Teddy's still o-fer his career)

Nats 3B Ryan Zimmerman

Nats celebrate after Adam Dunn's grand slam

Day of relaxation, I took Benjamin to the park and to lunch while Weena did some shopping. We cooked out for dinner and was amazed at how fast the weekend went.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Softball Comeback

It's been ages since I played softball so when our firm decided to field one this Summer, I signed up. Last night we had an informal practice and our ten game season starts June 9th.

I've decided my days of trolling the outfield are over so I played a little first base and pitched. I actually did ok with the arc and plans are to have me start out as a pitcher. In college and a couple rec. leagues I played some first base in addition to the outfield, so I was familiar with the position.

Hopefully when on the mound I won't end up like Charlie Brown.

Right now we are trying to come up with a nickname. I work for an accounting firm and we have a list of four. Phantoms, Crunchers (as in number crunchers), SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) and Sharks.

Stay tuned for more as there could be some good comedy out of this.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nils Lofgren Interview

WTOP Radio's Mark Segraves sat down with E Street Band's Nils Lofgren
Nils Lofgren's Homecoming: Playing D.C.

You can access Mark's audio portion of the interview with Nils at the link below. A little over 32 minutes long, it is well worth the listen. Nils talks about the Working on a Dream tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, his solo projects including The Loner: Nils Sings Neil, a CD of Neil Young songs and what does the future hold for Nils.

Nils Lofgren interview

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dreams Die Hard: Capitals Lose Game 7

Penguins 6, Capitals 2

Pittsburgh wins the best of seven series, 4 games to 3.

I'm still a little shocked at this result but the Pens were all over the Caps from the minute the puck dropped. They were simply outplayed by a very good hockey team.

Maybe the young Caps finally felt the pressure despite playing in a game seven prior to this series. A win and they go to the Eastern Conference finals. A couple years ago most of this team (and the coach) was in Hershey winning their league championship. Were they spent from using just about all their energy in game six in overtime just to get to game seven? I don't know.

Tonight the Caps took bad penalties. They were beaten to loose pucks. They made mental mistakes when the team could least afford to do so and the Pens took full advantage of it.

The Caps had the first scoring chance when Alex Ovechkin was stopped by Pens goalie Marc-André Fleury on a breakaway just 3:00 into the game with a brilliant glove save.

I had a pit in my stomach after that.

The Pens had the first power play when defenseman Shaone Morrisonn was penalized for slashing Ruslan Fedotenko. Sure enough, a minute plus into the penalty Sidney Crosby gave the Pens a 1-0 lead.

Eight seconds later the Pens Craig Adams took advantage of a defensive misplay by Brian Pothier and made it 2-0 Pens.

The Caps were shaky the rest of that first period and were outshot 16-5. The second period was a carry over from the first as veteran Bill Guerin made it 3-0 Pens just 29 seconds in. So that was pretty much it for the Caps and rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov, age 21 with just six NHL appearances prior to these playoffs. Can't fault Varlamov as the whole team failed to show up and play tonight.

So the Pens win another post season series vs the Caps. That's seven series wins out of eight played for them. GM George McPhee and Owner Ted Leonsis need to fine tune the team a little this offseason. Instead of being sad about this result, Caps fans need to take a moment and just remember exactly where this franchise was the day the Tampa Bay Lightning raised the Stanley Cup in June 2004.

They were in the middle of a team rebuild, shipping costly veterans for young talent and paying a good chunk of Jaromir Jagr's salary to the New York Rangers, who took Jagr off the Caps hands but not the books for a number of years. I believe the season ticket base was around 4,500 then and some nights during the rebuild the Caps barely drew 10k in attendance.

In other words Caps fans, appreciate what you have to watch now and in future seasons.

Side note: The question is now answered. Which game 7 loss is worse, OT or blowout? My answer: Blowout because around 7:45 I knew the Caps fate and it was hard watching them get pushed around like they were. Last year after the game 7 OT loss to the Flyers, I was down but encouraged after that loss. If the Caps had lost in OT but a round later than last season, I'd have been disappointed but encouraged and thrilled at such a great game seven. Right now I just feel awful after watching that massacre.

That all said, it's been a lot of fun blogging about this team and hope those who check in here enjoyed the pictures I took. I'm excited about the Caps future and Benjamin enjoyed watching some of the playoff action on TV before he went to bed. He loves Ovechkin and I plan to take him to a practice at the Caps facility in Arlington as well as his first Caps game next season. I can't wait!

Game 7 Thoughts

Capitals vs Penguins, game 7 Verizon Center 7:00 PM

Tonight is the most important game in the Capitals 35 year history.

Prior to this series, these two franchises haven't played one another in the playoffs since 2001 but the history remains and the Pens have scoreboard. Long time Caps and Pens fans will always remember the torture the Pens have inflicted on the Caps at playoff time. It's got to end though. Tonight.

In my opinion, this is a title game for these Caps. Win and they get a great start to this new era in this rivalry. No one will be bringing up '92 or '95 or any of the other years the Caps had their season ended by this franchise. I got tired of hearing folks saying "yeah Ovechkin is great but his team needs to get out of the first round of the playoffs...."

Well, they've done that this post season. A win tomorrow over the Pens and folks can say Ovechkin and the Caps beat Sid and the Pens when they first went head to head in the playoffs.

The Caps won't get a banner for this should they win. By winning, they attain a new level of confidence and respect is earned for these guys and that's big this time of year. Then the Caps can move on and focus on more hardware.

This is the third game seven for most of these Caps and the second for goaltender Simeon Varlamov while Sidney Crosby and the Pens are appearing in their first game seven.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Game 6 to the Capitals 5-4 in OT!

Unbelievable game and win for the Caps last night. They buried some ugly past history vs the Penguins last night with this win in OT. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau is now 6-1 when the Caps face elimination. Now on to game seven tomorrow night at Verizon Center. Wish I was going but since I'm superstitious, I know where I have to be and that's my basement watching. I didn't attend games one and two at Verizon Center and the Caps won both. I went to game five and the Caps lost.

This Caps team just feels completely different than all the Caps teams that repeatedly broke my heart since they first qualified for the playoffs in 1983. None of those prior teams really fought back like this Caps team has. They came from 2-0 and 3-1 down in the Ranger series and in this series, the tide turned and they went from up 2-0 to down 3-2. They fought back to square it.

Sit back and appreciate that we have two really good hockey teams going at it for the right to move on to the conference final.

Nothing in sports matches up to a NHL playoff game seven. Nothing.

Game 6 recap

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Capitals-Penguins: Game Five

Penguins 4, Capitals 3
Penguins lead best of seven series, three games to two with game six in Pittsburgh Monday night.

Caps had the early 2 games to 0 series lead but the Penguins have won the last three games. Two of which were in overtime.

Now I've personally seen nine Caps playoff overtime games (4 wins and 5 losses). The last three Caps playoff overtimes I've seen in person are as follows:

4/15/03 vs Tampa Bay, game three. Vincent Lecavalier scores a power play goal to give the Lightning a 4-3 win. This was a five on three advantage for Tampa Bay, the first time there was a playoff five on three advantage in 77 years.

4/22/08 vs Philadelphia, game seven. Joffrey Lupul scores a power play goal to win the game 3-2 and series 4 games to 3 for the Flyers.

5/9/09 vs Pittsburgh, game five. Evgeni Malkin scores a power play goal to give the Penguins a 4-3 win.

So the Caps head to game six in Pittsburgh now 1-7 in overtime against the Penguins, 0-8 all time in game five's against Pittsburgh and if the Caps lose Monday they will be 1-7 all time in playoff series against Pittsburgh.

The beat goes on.

My seat was in section 405, Row B for the game but got to the arena early and was in the first row VIP seating for warm ups. One day I will have to purchase a ticket there and experience a game behind the plexiglass. As usual click on the picture for a larger image.

Caps goalie of the future Simeon Varlamov.

Nicklas Backstrom gives the Caps a 2-1 lead!

Bill Guerin with the shot for the Penguins.

Matt Cooke's goal for the Penguins. Just wish I got the puck in the picture.

Alex Ovechkin scores the tying goal. Unfortunately I didn't get Alex in the picture but you can see the puck going past the goalie.

Overtime starts.

Caps David Steckel misses in OT.

After the Penguins win. I was too busy following their power play, hoping the Caps would stop the Penguins and missed the game winning goal.

As you can see, people in attendance threw things on the ice afterwards. It's really sad folks have to resort to this behavior after a great game.

Articles about the game from The Washington Post:

Game Story

A Bitter Night for Youngest Capitals

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's and Grandma's Day!

We're a day early but here is our official kick back on a Saturday morning photo to Mom and Grandma!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

More Mini Soccer!

Been writing a lot about the Caps lately so here are a few pictures from Benjamin's most recent mini soccer outing. He's with a group of a dozen kids in the Under 3 group. They base your group on what your age was this past August (He turned three in October) I won't post pictures of the other kids without permission, so here are some solo shots of Benjamin. He's starting to develop some skills. So far, so good.

His instructor is from the Darryl Gee Soccer Academy and Benjamin is always listening to him while drills are being explained. This has been a fun way for him to learn the game and we're pleased he's interested. More pictures to come later in the program.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Caps take a 2-0 series lead!

With back to back one goal victories over the Penguins (3-2 and 4-3), the Capitals have taken a 2 games to 0 lead in their best of seven series. The series shifts to Pittsburgh for games three and four.

Alex Ovechkin broke a 2-2 tie with two goals in the third period to put the Caps ahead 4-2. Great players rise to the occasion and Ovie just took over by scoring his first playoff hat trick. The Penguins fought hard in the end and Sidney Crosby scored with :30 left for his hat trick to make it a one goal game. But the Caps held on for the win 4-3.

Tonight the Caps just hung in there. They were missing a key defenseman (John Erskine out with a sore right leg). They came back from two one-goal deficits before Ovechkin took over. Simeon Varlamov won his fifth straight playoff game in goal. He came up big down the stretch when the Caps needed him to. He finished with 33 saves.

Still a long, long way to go in this series for the Caps but I'm very, very excited for this team right now.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Caps vs Pens: NHL Playoffs, 2nd Round

Regular Season Record: 50-24-8 (108 points)
Finish: Southeast Division champions, No. 2 seed in Eastern Conference
Playoffs Round 1: Down 1-3 in series, rallied to beat NY Rangers in seven games

Regular Season Record: 45-28-9 (99 points)
Finish: Second in Atlantic Division, No. 4 seed in Eastern Conference
Playoffs Round 1: Defeated Philadelphia Flyers in six games.

Game 1: at Washington Saturday, May 2, 1:00PM (NBC)
Game 2: at Washington Monday, May 4, 7:00 PM (Versus)
Game 3: at Pittsburgh Wednesday, May 6, 7:00 PM (Versus)
Game 4: at Pittsburgh Friday, May 8, 7:00 PM (CSN, Versus)
Game 5: at Washington* Saturday, May 9, 7:00 PM (CSN, Versus)
Game 6: at Pittsburgh* Monday, May 11, TBD (CSN, Versus)
Game 7: at Washington* Wednesday, May 13, 7:00 PM (CSN, Versus)
* if neccesary

3/8/09 Penguins 4, Capitals 3, (Shoot-out)
Sidney Crosby: 1 goal, 1 assist and scored in the shootout to give Pittsburgh the win.

2/22/09 Capitals 5, Penguins 2
Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin each scored and Washington dominated Pittsburgh

1/14/09 Capitals 6, Penguins 3
Alex Ovechkin: 2 goals, 1 assist

10/16/08 Capitals 4, Penguins 3
Alexander Semin, Michael Nylander and Boyd Gordon each scored in 12 minutes span in the third period to give the Caps the win.

1991: Pittsburgh 4 games to 1
1992: Pittsburgh 4 games to 3
1994: Washington 4 games to 2
1995: Pittsburgh 4 games to 3
1996: Pittsburgh 4 games to 2
2000: Pittsburgh 4 games to 1
2001: Pittsburgh 4 games to 2